Our German exchange student made an interesting observation early on in his stay, that most of the cars driven here have automatic transmission, and he wondered why. In Germany, it’s apparently only the old and infirm that need help shifting. In Germany, not many people cycle for transportation (unlike their Dutch neighbors to the north), but at least they shift.
Look at the trends in US car design over the last 20 years – virtually every car sold here now has automatic transmission, motorized windows, power everything. Most people just want to go places in total comfort, while engaging in the mechanics of getting there as little as possible. Watch how people will make multiple laps around a parking lot just to save themselves an extra 30 feet of walking… and that’s on a nice day.
Bicycle commuting flies in the face of what most Americans seem to want from their basic transportation. After all, cyclists are *gasp* outside, and they have to *yikes* pay attention to what they’re doing! It seems like it’ll take some serious carrots and sticks for the average American to embrace bicycling as transport (though we already know better, right?).
What got me thinking about this in a way was driving again last week while the streets were icy, thinking i need to get some studded tires, and hoping it would clear quickly so i could ride again. And it did, and i was out on Christmas eve doing a couple of errands by bike. This bike, in fact:
The Lotus winter bomber is done now. Actually, since this photo, i’ve added a rear rack and the panniers, but i haven’t taken a picture since then. It rides nice, i like the el cheapo 1.5 tires except they really really really really don’t want to seat in the bead on my rims. The rear still has a little dip, but i’m done fighting them for now. It’s a little under-geared at 39/17, but i think i can deal for a while. The position is good, and the handling is ok, though i’m still getting used to the prodigious the wheel flop in tight turns.
Today is a nice day too, but i took the Redwood out for one last ride of the year. It has fenders, but i don’t want it to get the salt bath – that’s what the Lotus is for.